Wednesday, May 04, 2011

What Am I Yoked To?

1. (Noun) A crossbar with two U-shaped pieces that encircle the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft animals working together.

2. (Noun) A frame designed to be carried across a person's shoulders with equal loads suspended from each end.

3. (Intrans. Verb) To force into heavy labor, bondage, or subjugation.

These are some of my "favorite" definitions of "yoke" from the Free Dictionary by Farlex, the first place to come up when I went to look it up online.

They are my favorite for today because I went there looking for the definition of yoke while thinking about Depression. So now, why don't you look at those definitions again...

This morning I woke up fresh and alive. I slept a normal amount of time - a big deal since I slept most of the early part of the week, sick with a nasty cold. I felt inspired - alive, grateful and energetic. I met with a student, had great conversation about writing, finished editing my manuscript to send off to a possible agent and then --

I froze in my tracks, immediately after sealing the envelope to the Agent.

Suddenly, I thought of a million other things I could do than go to the Post Office.
I thought of the millions of things I didn't want to do, including going to the Post Office.
Only my mind is sophisticated, so it didn't sounds like the way I am saying it now.
Instead it sounded something like this:
"I am sad and sick of you pushing me around today. I've had enough. Let's just take the rest of the day off and read."
Sounds kind of reasonable - I *was* pushing a bit hard to get the manuscript done and am pretty well caught up on emails and such. However, something about the tone didn't sound right. Like the part about not going to the Post Office at all, after all that work.

Finally I decided, after posting on Facebook that I was going to the Post Office, to give me some cheers of support, to go and mail it, and if I still felt like I needed downtime afterwords, I could take it. The walk was refreshing, tulips and music and smiles from strangers. I mailed the package, got some fresh lemonade and walked home.

On the way back, the sadness, which had abated, reappeared. I decided to do some Yoga, then un-decided it. I went back and forth, my mind fighting over what I needed - one "side" saying I needed to be super gentle with myself and be with my feelings, the "other" saying I needed to do Yoga and get some more exercise and perk up. Both sides were pushy. Both had some truth. So who did I listen to?

Neither. Both.

I got home and set up my Yoga mat. I did twenty minutes of my own poses, no tape, no teacher. And after the second downward facing dog, suddenly, my head cleared. I could see the tapes - the tape of self-care from childhood that says the only way to be nice to myself is to actually not take care of myself but shut down - that's the first side. And the second, which is my "father" side, that has good suggestions - in theory - except I always turn them in to an agenda.

I am grateful that a combination of regular enough practice of Yoga, meditation and writing helps me to remember, notice, even glimpse when I have choices. When I can slip, despite all my minds' aspirations to do the contrary, enough space in to see what is really going on, and see what I really need.

I am also grateful for meds. My meds are the cream on the top, keeping me just ahead of the Yoke of depression. That Yoke ties together the voices that seem to pull me down, equally, from all sides at times. That Yoke forces me to overwork.

When I Yoke myself instead to Yoga, to sitting or to writing; when I am able, by a tiny sliver of grace, space, sun or support, to get a word in edgewise, and actually take a break from the depression, I am so grateful. Grateful that there is something else to Yoke myself to - or to not be Yoked to, at all.


  1. Wow. wowowowowowowow.

    It will likely not surprise you at all to hear that this resonates very deeply with me. :-o

    "the only way to be nice to myself is to actually not take care of myself but shut down"... I have been able to see that from time to time, but so often it just flashes by, and I end up stuck in that muck again.

    But the idea that the "good suggestions" from my inner Dad get turned into an agenda... Damn. I mean, that pegs it right there. For me, that is the really nasty part of that voice - that even though I don't remember Dad having lots of agendas, as such, somehow all those sorts of thoughts have become laden with all this baggage.

    And therein is a whole other "yoke", one I struggle with so very frequently. I have come to view that struggle through the lens of addiction and recovery, rather than depression - but I also think the source of that yoke is not so much Dad himself as the baggage he carried from his childhood, and hid so very well himself.

    When I was in Kentucky, I did a lot of work on trying to tease out those elements, but in the time since then I lost touch with a lot of that.... but I had just been thinking about it over the last few days. We worked on making a separation between our parents' stuff and what is really ours... which is exactly what you are talking about here.

    I don't think the fact we're both in this space is coincidence. You have reminded me that I too have tools to deal with some of this - and that separation from it, being able to detach from the scripts, is a skill that has to be learned and *practiced*.

    Thank you. :)

  2. I love this. Thank you for sharing your voice and your truth with the world.